I don’t talk about fitness trackers much on the blog anymore (no-one needs another fitbit review!). And believe me, this is not because I don’t use one. I literally keep my wrists covered at all times to prevent people from asking if the bands on both wrists are activity trackers and why I need them both. The short story is that one is basic and links to my health insurance (earning me perks such as free coffee, movie tickets and half price trainers) whilst the other has a heart rate monitor which allows me to see how effective my training is and push myself to the required zone.
Then along came this study thats suggests that measuring an activity makes it less enjoyable. But the caveat is that the negative effects of measurement are really where you were just doing something for fun. Because then, measurement makes it not fun.
So, the moral of the story is the title of this post.
If you’re new to exercise or working out, find a specific goal to work towards. For example, walk more to lose weight. In cases such as these, having access to data can actually make you more likely to do the activity.
I spent approx 6 years meticulously tracking every single run I did, no matter how short. I loved having all this data but when I wasn’t training for a race, it became meaningless. I then turned off the milestones on my Nike+ running app so it no longer kept telling me my distance or pace. Then I stopped tracking some runs all together and focused on how I felt rather than how fast I was going.
This research proposes that the more you quantify something that’s rewarding for its own sake, the less likely you are to enjoy it – and the less likely you are, too, to do more of it. And this is what happened to me after I completed my first ever triathlon in 2015. I measured every swim (and was annoyed every time my watch missed a lap of the pool), the few runs I managed to squeeze in and the couple of times I actually rode my bike as part of my training.
I then didn’t run for over 6 months.
By the time I needed to start running again, as I had races in the diary, I couldn’t muster up the motivation. What did get me moving again was the realism after hopping on the scales (another tracker that demotivates us?!) and seeing the effect that no running, no swimming, no cycling but eating like I was had had on me. Then I wanted to track everything. From workouts, to water intake, to my daily food intake.
Is there a happy medium?! I certainly don’t know. But it’s much like all technology these days. It’s refreshing to take a break from it all every now and again. Run to enjoy the scenery, clear your mind and destress. Walk to stretch your legs, enjoy company or get from A to B. Or workout, just to sweat.
Do you use any activity trackers?! Have you in the past, and quit!?! What are your thoughts?!